Seeing Bones

With great glee, I get to announce my latest publication with The Swamp Literary Magazine: “Seeing Bones.”

Not only do they offer print and online options to read (my favorite sort of publisher), but they’ve kindly included an author profile on me that includes some discourse on my motivation for the story, a recording of me reading the story, and the story itself.

You can find all of the above here.

About the story (taken from The Swamp’s interview):

“Seeing Bones” was written to be both an examination of our fascination with binaries as well as the bonds of family as they are made fragile by parental expectation. To the former, I was interested in pitting opposing notions against each other: urban vs. suburban, marriage vs. weddings, parents vs. children. Although these aren’t true binaries in the best sense of the word, I felt they acted well to oppose one another (at least in the narrative) and work to establish a moment where the narrator and his estranged cousin can reconnect despite the ways life separates loved ones.

The term “seeing bones” works at two levels: it refers to Edward’s job, an X-ray technician, which he chose simply because his father expected him to find a well-paying job instead of pursuing passion. This feeds into the second construct of the titular notion where family members have the uncanny ability to see deeply into one another, perhaps due to some metaphysical and incomprehensible familial bond. Talking with Edward about his occupational predicament, the narrator then ruminates about how he may also expect too much from his young son, thus perpetuating the problem. Though it isn’t directly stated, my intended hope was that the narrator, in seeing how Edward’s father’s expectations shackled him to a dissatisfied life, will now be more open to his own son finding his own way.

Perhaps a bit covert in the narrative, but nevertheless a driving force, was a criticism of vocational higher education.  As an educator myself, I value vocational education as a means by which students who do not have academic interests or aptitude can still find meaningful employment in our society.  However, vocational education has largely become a method to disenfranchise the potential academic pursuits of the most marginalized students of our culture, particularly in community colleges.  In layman’s terms: inspiring students to choose a vocational education truncates their passions and potential development for the dream of modest economic gain.  Edward’s choice to be an X-ray tech, though economically valuable, illustrates how much of his self he had to sacrifice for this elusive and illusionary boon.

Personally, I’ve been very interested in exploring ideas of family (particularly fatherhood) in my recent writing.  I’m intrigued at how family members create and maintain bonds based not on choice but nature and accident.  Family is both tender and frustrating, and “Seeing Bones” hopes to understand this binary, too.

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